Another two of the six endangered black rhinoceroses donated to Chad have died, bringing the total to four.
The rhinos were translocated to Chad’s Zakouma National Park in May following their decimation due to poaching there nearly 50 years ago.
“We can confirm that none of these rhinos were poached and we are taking all actions to determine what may have resulted in their deaths,” said African Parks chief executive Peter Fearnhead.
When the rhinos arrived in Zakouma, they were dehorned and fitted with tracking devices, African Parks’ Fran Read said after they arrived .
“They spent close to two months in their bomas and another two months in a temporary sanctuary where they could acclimatise to their new environment.
“But they have now been successfully released into the wider, secure park while a dedicated surveillance team continues to track and monitor each animal 24 hours a day.”
Read’s statement declared regular rhino sightings which confirmed they were “in excellent condition, reflecting their healthy adjustment to their habitat”.
Fearnhead said African Parks would be “moving additional rhinos to Zakouma to create a genetically diverse population who can breed and thrive in the safety of the park”.
However, four months after the six SA rhinos arrived in Chad, two were dead and now, not long after that, another two.
Questions about the effectiveness of the monitoring have not been answered by Read, given the animals appear to have been infected – and hungry.
Fearnhead said: “Post-mortems have been conducted and various samples of blood, tissue and faecal matter were sent to specialist pathology laboratories in South Africa.”
Results have not indicated infectious disease or plant toxicity as cause of death, although evidence indicated exposure to trypanosomes, a blood-borne parasite transmitted by tsetse flies.
Said Fearnhead: “At this stage, it is not suspected to be the cause of the mortalities. Low fat reserves suggest that maladaptation to their new environment is the likely underlying cause, although tests to be undertaken on brain and spinal fluid may shed additional light on the exact cause of deaths.”